Arizona’s Case SB 1070 at the Supreme Court

On April 25, the Supreme Court will hear arguments on the constitutionality of the Arizona’s harsh anti-immigrant law, SB 1070.

If this conservative court upholds SB 1070, numerous states that have held off on moving forward on their own versions of Arizona’s ‘papers please’ racial profiling law for fear of challenges based on federal preemption of state law may well move forward on their own versions of SB 1070. However, if the Court strikes down SB1070, immigrants and people of color in Arizona and across the nation will be able to breathe easier.

The Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act (introduced as Arizona Senate Bill 1070 and thus often referred to simply as Arizona SB 1070) is a legislative Act in the U.S. state of Arizona that at the time of passage was the broadest and strictest anti-illegal immigration measure in recent U.S. history. It has received national and international attention and has spurred considerable controversy.

U.S. federal law requires all aliens over the age of 14 who remain in the United States for longer than 30 days to register with the U.S. government, and to have registration documents in their possession at all times.

The Arizona Act additionally makes it a state misdemeanor crime for an alien to be in Arizona without carrying the required documents,requires that state law enforcement officers attempt to determine an individual’s immigration status during a “lawful stop, detention or arrest” when there is reasonable suspicion that the individual is an illegal immigrant, bars state or local officials or agencies from restricting enforcement of federal immigration laws and cracks down on those sheltering, hiring and transporting illegal aliens. The paragraph on intent in the legislation says it embodies an “attrition through enforcement” doctrine.

Critics of the legislation say it encourages racial profiling, while supporters say the law prohibits the use of race as the sole basis for investigating immigration status.

The law was modified by Arizona House Bill 2162 within a week of its signing with the goal of addressing some of these concerns. There have been protests in opposition to the law in over 70 U.S. cities,including boycotts and calls for boycotts of Arizona.

Polling has found the law to have majority support in Arizona and nationwide. Passage of the measure has prompted other states to consider adopting similar legislation.

The Act was signed into law by Governor Jan Brewer on April 23, 2010. The day before the law was to take effect, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction that blocked the law’s most controversial provisions.

Arizona has sought, unsuccessfully to date, to reverse that decision in the federal appeals courts.

Advocates from across the country are coming together to call for a ruling against SB 1070. You can get involved by:

Traveling to DC on April 25: Join a diverse group of activists from around the country for a Rally for Unity and Justice at 10:30 am on April 25 outside the Supreme Court. For more information, see this flyer.

Using Social Media to Join the Virtual Vigil: Join Reform Immigration For America’s virtual vigil by visiting or texting DECISION to 69866. Then, share on twitter and facebook and encourage your friends to join as well.

More resources:

For more information about the Supreme Court hearing, check out these great resources from our partners.

From the Immigration Policy Center: Guide to Arizona v. United States

From the Center for American Progress: What’s at Stake

From the National Immigration Law Center: Various resources, analyses, legal documents related to the case

Image by Arasmus Photo via Flickr.

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